Hands-on fathering produces long-term benefits, says study

A father’s active involvement in his children’s lives underpins their later ability to self-regulate and problem-solve, according to a vast new study, published in the journal Pediatric Research this past summer.

Led by Tsuguhiko Kato, a researcher at Japan’s National Center for Child Health and Development, the study started with over 100,000 Japanese babies born between January 2011 and March 2014. The researchers narrowed the group to a sample of 28,040 children.

At intervals of six months, from one month of age to their third birthday, each child’s mother was asked to rate the father’s participation in early child-rearing, including feeding, changing diapers, bathing, dressing, playing at home or outdoors, and putting the child to sleep. Japanese fathers are typically less involved in child-rearing than North American fathers, but when the researchers examined the children’s milestones at age 3, they discovered that children whose fathers invested more time in their care showed better gross and fine motor skills, problem solving, and social skills than children whose fathers were not as involved.

Moreover, “the risk of developmental delay in children with highly involved fathers was 24% lower,” said Dr. Kato.